Speech and Language Services
The Role of School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists
The focus of school-based speech-language pathologists is to improve the communication abilities of students that adversely impact educational performance.
"Speech or language impairment means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, expressive or receptive language impairment, or voice impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance." (Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia)
School-based speech-language pathologists work with students with speech, language, hearing, or related impairments; promote the development and improvement of functional communication skills for students with communication; and provide support in the general educational environment for students with communication problems to facilitate their successful participation, socialization, and learning. (American Speech Language Hearing Association, 1999)
Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia defines speech-language pathology services as:
- Identification of children with speech-language impairments
- Diagnosis and appraisal of specific speech or language impairments
- Referral for medical or other professional attention necessary for the habilitation or prevention of communicative impairments
- Counseling and guidance of parents, children, and teachers regarding speech and language impairments
Many school speech and language caseloads consist of students with a wide range of disabilities and diverse educational needs. Speech-language pathology services may be delivered as a primary special education service under the disability category of Speech or Language Impairment or as a related service to students who have other disabilities such as autism, emotional disturbance, specific learning disability, etc.
Speech-language pathologists may also provide support when students are not eligible for speech-language services by participating in various prevention/early intervention teams (e.g. Instructional Support Teams, child study committees). On these teams, the speech-language pathologist may consult with teachers regarding the acquisition of proficient language and communication skills, model interventions and classroom strategies that will enhance communication for all students, and gather data, all in the context of general education.
The core roles and responsibilities of school-based speech-language pathologists include:
- Prevention of communication disorders through in-service training and consultation
- Identification of students who may be in need of assessments to determine possible eligibility for special education or related services through prereferral interventions and screenings
- Assessment/evaluation of students suspected of having a speech or language impairment
- Eligibility determination, including addressing the relationship between the student's speech and language disabilities and any adverse effect on the ability to learn the general curriculum, including academic, social-emotional, or vocational areas
- IEP (individualized education program) development
- Caseload management, including selecting, planning, and coordinating appropriate service delivery and scheduling options
- Intervention to facilitate the achievement of IEP goals and objectives
- Counseling to provide information and support, refer to other professionals, and/or help develop problem-solving strategies to enhance the intervention process
- Documentation and accountability, including data collection, progress reports and adherence to federal, state, and local requirements
All ACPS schools have either full-time or part-time Speech-Language Pathologists on staff and each Speech Language Pathologist holds a master's degree in speech language pathology.
Information about speech, language, or hearing disorders can be found at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website.
Resources for Parents
- Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) - Special Education
- VDOE Parents Guide to Special Education (PDF)
- American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA)
- ACPS Special Education Parent Resource Center
- What Do SLPs Do? (PDF)